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Monday, 15 August 2016

Archie -de Man van Staal, or, Robot Archie Goes Dutch


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One of the things I found out many years ago,in conversation with Gil Page at Fleetway and one of the editors,was that the weekly 1970s comic Vulcan [in Germany it was titled Kobra] featured the adventures of Robot Archie drawn by a Nederlander called Bert Bus.  I found this out because there were a couple of pages of art on a desk  so asked about them.

Never hurts to ask!

Thunderbolt The Avenger,Janus Stark,Adam Eterno and others had appeared in a French BD titled Atoll but that is for another day.  Right now I’d like to concentrate on Archie’s appearances in the Netherlands.
Robot Archie had an interesting history in Holland. The strip began running in the Dutch weekly Sjors in 1963, reprinting tales from Archie’s original appearances in Lion. However, Archie disappeared from the pages of Lion in 1971, and new stories continued to appear in Holland, now written and drawn by leading Dutch artist Bert Bus, although based on some of the laterLion yarns. Towards the end of the Bert Bus run, two all-original stories appeared (‘Archie in de ijstijd’, 1973-74, and ‘Archie contra mister Magneto’, 1974) written by Fenna Ridderbos.

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When it came to reprinting the adventures of Archie de Man van Staal in album form, the Bert Bus stories were the first to appear, although not in their original published order–the strips were of varying lengths, so they were combined in more convenient ways to fit the album format. Thus the first album contained the first and third of Bus’s Archie stories.

It was these stories that appeared in Vulcan, the IPC reprint title that launched in Scotland in 1975 (later published nationally in 1976). A treat for Archie fans who would otherwise never have been able to read the new strips by Bert Bus. (Our column header is an example of Bus’s version of Archie.)

Once these new stories had been used up, the albums reverted to earlier stories, although these appeared in colour rather than the original black & white. Years later, Bus produced another Archie story, published in 2004, the year he was awarded the Bulletje en Boonestaakschaal for his contributions to Dutch comics.

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There had been an earlier series of Archie albums published in the 1960s. I’ve listed the various titles and publication dates below.

Bert Bus is,without a doubt,unknown in the UK despite his Archie work.  However,my favourite site,Lambiek,has a rather decent entry on the man which I quote here with a few corrections -original source at: http://lambiek.net/artists/b/bus.htm

Bert Bus was born in the town of Santpoort, near Haarlem,Netherlands.  He began working for publisher De Spaarnestad shortly after World War II. He stayed with this company for his entire career. For this reason, almost all of his comic work has been published in Sjors magazine. Bus started out doing paterns and illustrations for the women’s magazine Libelle. He took evening art classes and began a lifelong friendship with fellow artist Nico van Dam.
Above: 1960s photo of Bert Bus.


After his military service from 1950 to 1952, Bus returned to the Spaarnestadt Studio at the Nassauplein in Haarlem, where he worked alongside Nico van Dam and Harry Balm for many years. His first comic series was the science-fiction saga ‘Olaf Noord’, which ran from 1953 to 1956. In addition, he did the gag strip about the pre-historic boy ‘Skokan’ from 1955 to 1956.

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After the cancellation of ‘Olaf Noord’, Bus took on the historical comic series ‘Theban, de Eerste Wereldreiziger’. This series ran until the restyling of Sjors magazine in 1959. In the restyled magazine, Bus made three independent historical stories: ‘De Brug in het Oerwoud’ (1960-61), ‘De Gouden Kraag’ (1962) and ‘De Slavenkoopman van Pompeï’ (1963).

Bus then started work on a new science-fiction series, called ‘De Avonturen van Cliff Rendall’, that ran ran from 1963 to 1965. In addition, he did a comics version of ‘Huckleberry Finn’, and ‘Lance Barton’, another science-fiction comic. Bus was then briefly present in the girls’ magazine Tina with ‘Jola’ and ‘Nancy Drew’, the latter based on the American children’s book series. For Nico van Dam, he wrote the comic ‘Woep en Wap’, that was published in the women’s magazine Rosita from 1958 to 1967. He returned to Sjors in 1971 to draw a modernized version of the British comic ‘Archie, de Man van Staal’ [Robot Archie].

Bus illustrated ten stories with ‘Archie’, and during this period publisher De Spaarnestadt merged with De Geïllustreerde Pers into Oberon. The Spaarnestadt Studio was discontinued, and Bus continued to work for Eppo, the continuation of Sjors and Pep.

For Eppo, he began the new series ‘Stef Ardoba’ (1975-1982) and ‘Malorix’ (1983-1985) and did painted cover illustrations for the Dutch ‘Trigian Empire’ albums. In addition to his work for Eppo, Bus made the erotic comic ‘De Vechters van Shar-Yaban’ in the SF magazine Essef, using the pseudonym Max Mutesius.

Bus subsequently made the ‘Russ Bender’ trilogy in Eppo Wordt Vervolgd and Sjors en Sjimmie Stripblad from 1986 until his retirement in 1989.  Since his retirement, much of Bus’s work has been reprinted, which made him a frequent guest at comics festival signings. Together with his former studio colleagues Harry Balm and Nico van Dam, he was awarded the Bulletje & Boonestaakschaal for his contributions to their contributions to the Dutch comics field in 2004.

He still does  occasional illustration work and is active as an amateur archaeologist.
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The Archie albums are:

First Series[UK material]:Writer- E. George Cowan –Art:Ted Kearon
  • De gouden sfinx, 1963
  • Het teken van de schorpioen,1963
  • Juwelen feesten in India, 1964
  • Jacht op de schat, 1965
  • Avonturen in Afrika, 1966
  • Het magnetisch gas, 1967
  • Overval op de postwagen en Jacht op groot wild, 1967
  • Het kristallen luipaard, 1967
  • De terreur van de ijsgeesten, 1967
  • De Incastad en De vuurspuwende kreeft, 1968
  • De goudmijn en Het verlaten schip, 1969
  • De goudkoorts van Abdul Krah
Second Series:writer/artist -Bert Bus
  • Archie als ridder  1971
  • De invasie van de Superons  1971-1972
  • De gepantserde struikrover  1972
  • Archie in het wilde westen  1972
  • De strijd tegen de Kruls  1972
  • De terugkeer van de Kruls  1973
  • In de macht van het monster  1973
  • De vernietiging van het monster 1973
  • Archie in de ijstijd  1973-1974, tekst: Writer -Fenna Ridderbos
  • Archie contra mister Magneto (40 pl) 1974, Writer – Fenna Ridderbos

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So that is your basic guide to Robot Archie in the Netherlands.  Sadly,despite asking around and trawling the internet for a few years I have never found a photograph of Bert Bus.  PLEASE if you have a photo of the man or a link to a site with his photo get in touch!!!

And just as a “tease”…Archie also appears in French in the below book but I’ve no idea whether this was another series or not.  Atoll is a French publication which began in March 1967 until Nov. 1981 -121 issues. UK material reprinted therein as noted earlier.
#1
#12
archie41
PLEASE,if any of you can support Lambiek either with contributions on certain artists not listed or any other way please do!

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